Sunday, 2 April 2017

Week 7 - Return from Windsor

Monday 27th March - Windsor to Marlow

Windsor Castle taken yesterday evening as we explored the town.  The Queen is in residence as the flag is flying and the armed guards are in evidence.

Coming down towards Bray we passed Oakley Court, a magnificent Victorian Gothic castle, now a hotel and once upon a time used by the film industry.

On Monkey Island is a large white building which was built in 1738 by the Duke of Marlborough for use as a fishing lodge.  It was used as a hotel but today it is boarded up and looks very sad!

Heading towards Marlow, the sun was shining and the river was like a mill pond, very different from last week!  I am really enjoying this!

The narrowboat moored behind the river cruiser - how different could they be?

A wooden houseboat with a huge sun deck, obviously not meant to go anywhere but fascinating to look at.  Is it someone's home or just a weekend retreat?

We arrived in Marlow and moored up in almost the exact same spot as last time.  We went for a walk through the town park and riverside.

This is the iconic view of Marlow showing the suspension bridge and the church spire.
Dave actually had an ice-cream!

Beautiful geese by the river's edge, I believe these are Greylag Geese

and this is an Egyptian Goose, which was introduced as an ornamental wildfowl species and escaped into the wild where it is now successfully breeding.

Marlow is the home town of Sir Steve Redgrave, a bronze statue commemorates his Olympian success.

Tuesday 28th March - Marlow to Henley

In brilliant sunshine we left our mooring and headed for Marlow Lock.  These apartments were built on the site of the former Marlow Mill which used to make flour from locally produced grain and paper from rags brought upstream from London by barge.

Unfortunately in the 60's the millstream was damned and the Mill demolished.

In Marlow Lock we found this which shows that Marlow lies roughly half way between London and Oxford.

Just after the lock were two swans building their nest ready for egg laying and baby cygnets.

Bisham Abbey on the Berkshire bank is now a nationally acclaimed centre for sports development.  It was originally built around 1260 and was granted to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement from King Henry VIII during the 16th Century.

How peaceful - an artist capturing the beauty of the river.

Temple Island has a folly built on it dating from 1771, but today it marks the start of the course for Henley Royal Regatta.

We moored up for the night below Temple Island and about a mile outside of Henley.  An idyllic spot, peaceful and quiet with just the occasional oarsman rowing past.

A man arrived to collect the mooring fee of £20 for the two nights we want to stay here.

He lives on his boat, seen here and works for 4 landowners collecting mooring fees throughout the year.  He also rents out river cruisers during the season.  He said Henley Royal Regatta is especially busy!!  I can only imagine!

Wednesday 29th March - Day in Henley 

Today we met our friends Elaine and Steve and went for a walk from The Flower Pot Pub in Remenham along the riverbank, past the lock and back along footpaths to the pub.

Henley is the home of the Brakspear Brewery dating back to 1711 and moved to this site in 1812.  It grew to 145 pubs in the area until it 2002 when the brewery ceased production and the premises were sold.

Part of the buildings are now used as a Hotel du Vin boutique hotel, very smart.

Thursday 30th March - Henley to Sonning

We left Henley in bright sunshine and headed for Marsh Lock.  At the water's edge was a beautiful bronze statue of a mermaid.  She is one of many such statues and is part of a project to promote water conservation.      

More ducks - this time a group of tufted ducks, the males are quite distinctive black and white.

I was pleased to be able to capture this cormorant standing in a classic pose, drying out its wings after diving after fish.

We came through our last lock of the day, Shiplake Lock, and they were very busy painting all the bollards black with a white top.  It looked very smart, but the lock keeper was convinced that it was a waste of time, because as soon as a boat came in it rubbed all the paint off onto the ropes.  He felt that the boaters should complain about the paint on their ropes and maybe the Agency would change their policy!  It does look smart at the start of the season though.

We arrived at Sonning and moored up at a delightful spot, with a view of Sonning Bridge. We went for a walk through the village... 

Sonning Church and the entrance I went through as Janet Rees before marrying Dave...

...the tree Dave stood in front of with an instruction to look nonchalant...

...the font in the church where Laura, our second daughter, was baptised...

A lovely trip down memory lane!  We then went to the Bull Inn where we met friends of Dave's for lunch.  They had come all the way from Portchester to say hello and we had a delightful lunch and catch up before walking back to the boat.

Sally and Neil had a tour of the boat and then returned to Portchester.  It was lovely to see them and many thanks for making the effort to come all that way!

Later in the afternoon we saw a black swan land amongst a group of mute swans.  
Black swans are native to Australia and are the state bird of Western Australia. They were brought to the UK as ornamental birds like peacocks and golden pheasants. Like many other captive birds, they occasionally find their way out into the wild.

Friday 31st March - Sonning to Reading, Thames and Kennet Marina.

Today we leave Sonning and head back towards Reading where we are going to put the boat in the marina for a few nights.

We shared the lock at Sonning with a small fibre glass boat and we were amazed to see how easily the boat was blown around by the slight breeze.  I did feel quite concerned in case the boat came into contact with our steel hull!!

Saturday 1st April - Basingstoke

Today we locked the boat up, hired a car from Enterprise and drove down to Reading.  We dropped Toby off with friends, Liz and Andy, for a one night sleep over - many thanks to them for giving Toby a lovely evening!

Then we continued down to Basingstoke where we went to celebrate Jean Holdcroft's 60th birthday at Cliddesden Village Hall.  A lovely evening of hog roast and barn dance!

Helen, Alison, myself and Jean all trained together as teachers 20 odd years ago and have kept in touch ever since.  This is the first time we have been back together since Dave and I moved away from Basingstoke 3 years ago.

We spent the night in a Premier Inn in the middle of Basingstoke, I must say it felt very strange to be back in the town after being away for 3 years.

Sunday 2nd April - Sonning

After collecting Toby from Liz and Andy we carried on to Sonning where we met up with Lizzie and Annie who had driven up from Southampton (Lizzie was visiting Annie for the weekend).

We had lunch at the Bull Inn and sat in the glorious sunshine, it was a delight to feel the warmth of the sun on our faces!

A stroll along the River Thames followed by tea and cake in the cafe at Sonning Lock.  It was much busier today with a lock keeper on duty and boats passing through the lock very regularly.

This is the half way point of what is proving to be a wonderful cruise.  We continue back up the River Thames and back onto the Oxford Canal.  This week has been delightful, meeting up with friends in our past stomping grounds and we would like to thank everyone for coming to see us!

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